DISCLAIMER: THE FOLLOWING "Cost of Freedom Recap" CONTAINS STRONG OPINIONS WHICH ARE NOT A REFLECTION OF THE OPINIONS OF FOX NEWS AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON AS INVESTMENT ADVICE WHEN MAKING PERSONAL INVESTMENT DECISIONS. IT IS FOX NEWS' POLICY THAT CONTRIBUTORS DISCLOSE POSITIONS THEY HOLD IN STOCKS THEY DISCUSS, THOUGH POSITIONS MAY CHANGE. READERS OF "Cost of Freedom Recap" MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN INVESTMENT DECISIONS.
WORRIES MOUNT OVER MORE COSTLY SURPRISES IN HEALTH CARE LAW
Charles Payne: This does a lot of things, but the most important is this-there was no betting. This was rammed down our throats. We were told we were going to like it once we knew what it was all about. As we can see, every other week there is something wrong. Here are some things people probably don't know. Let's say you sell a house. You're going to have to pay an additional tax-3.8 percent Medicare tax. Medicare tax is associated with selling your house and other "unearned income." You have a Medicare payroll tax; anyone who's making over $250,000 a year it jumps to 2.35 percent from 1.45 percent. Hospitals that spend more per elderly patient will be penalized. But there's no rationing.
Charlie Gasparino: This is eerily similar to the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. When you start unpacking Dodd-Frank it's this Rube Goldberg contraption of rules and regulations that doesn't do much about the underlying causes of the financial crisis, but just prevents banks from making money and giving out loans. I don't know what republicans do, but there is an argument to be made that this man not just socialized the economy, but he may be ruining it for years to come.
Dagen McDowell: I don't worry so much about the obvious costs and the ways to raise revenue. I do worry, but at least those are the knowns. They are out there. I'm personally really angry about the 10 percent tanning tax that went into effect. A 10 percent tax on tanning services. That is outrageous. It's the hidden cost. The issue with the contraceptives that's been handed off to the insurance companies-those contraceptives aren't free and those costs will be passed on to other people in other ways.
Ben Stein: The Democratic Congress basically gave the democratic President a blank check. They didn't fill in the blanks. They didn't cross the T's or dot the I's. They just said try it. You'll like it. It tastes just like chicken. It doesn't taste like chicken. It tastes like something else from chicken. It's going to be a big problem when they fill in even more of the blanks. They just started filling in the blanks. When they fill in all the blanks we are going to see fully socialized medicine and the government is going to be taking money out of everyone's pockets wherever they can find it. This is not to say that the poor should not have health insurance, but to make this Rube Goldberg incredibly complicated contraption to do it was a big mistake. For Congress not to give a fully detailed bill to the President was a huge mistake.
Neil Weinberg: Let me talk about Tom Waits who said the large print giveth and the small print taketh away. I wish we could say this was a surprise, but if you go back to Sarbanes Oxley or Dodd-Frank, time and time again the government industrial complex loves to lard complexity on our system and all it does is muck everything up. Look at the tax code-thousands of pages. Everyone feels like they're getting screwed. If you look at the new Dodd-Frank legislation they're trying to do, all sorts of complicated things with separating proprietary trading, they could have done something really simple and elegant if they really wanted to and bring back the separation between investment banks and banking. That wouldn't make business and work for lawyers and accountants and lobbyists and everyone who is feeding at the Washington trough. So, they don't do that. They just add complexities.
GAS PRICES CLIMBING AS CANADA TRIES SELLING ITS OIL TO CHINA
Charles Payne: China has already pumped $16 billion into Canada. Canada loves them. They're willing to do this thing and they will put up the money. The gasoline prices-highest January ever. The American people have a gun to their wallet. That's what we're talking about here and that's the point that we're all missing. This is not about politics. This is not about someone's ego. This is about doing the right thing for your country.
Charlie Gasparino: The positive news here is that as they increase production there will be more oil on the market and overall prices should go down marginally on paper.
Ben Stein: The Canadians have made a phenomenal investment in money and man power in these Tar Sands. I don't think they want the oil to just sit there. The Chinese are ready buyers. They have tons of money. It was so insanely out of sync with the feelings of America for Mr. Obama to veto that pipeline. I can't even conceive of how crazy it was. Now the Chinese are going to be the beneficiary of his kowtowing to the environmentalists.
Dagen McDowell: We asked in a poll if you would rather buy your gas from the Middle East, Venezuela or Canada. Almost everyone said Canada. Wouldn't that be great if you could make that choice when you went to buy your gasoline? It also asks what you prefer: ethical oil, or conflict oil? Because that's how you can divide the types of oil that we import to this country. Wouldn't we love to have oil from Canada, but because the White House won't allow the pipeline, that oil is now going to be going to China.
Neil Weinberg: I think both parties here have been playing a lot of politics with this. The republicans attached it to a bill that gave President Obama very little time to look at it. The Business Round Table, a very pro-business group, came out and said that no leader likes to have a gun to his head. There was no reason we had to have a hard deadline here. Both sides are playing politics.
GOVERNMENT INSISTING INFLATION ISN'T A PROBLEM AS PRICES KEEP SOARING
Charles Payne: Ben Bernanke is cocky. He thinks he can flip a switch. He has said on more than one occasion when he feels the time is right, it's like playing a game of chicken, he'll hit the brakes right before we go off the edge and nobody believes that. We're talking about commodities, but look at gas. I have three dogs-renew the dog license. The tolls, life in general is so much more expensive for Americans.
Charlie Gasparino: There's no way you can keep interest rates at zero and not have commodity inflation. People are going to go out on the re spectrum and buy commodities. That's what traders do. I don't know what's going through Ben Bernanke's head. I do know that he is a student of the depression. Maybe he really feels that we could go back into a depression.
Dagen McDowell: Ben Bernanke and company are still concerned about deflation, particularly falling home values down by one-third.
Ben Stein: When I used to work for Mr. Nixon and Mr. Ford back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, people used to say to my father, who was chairman of the council of economic advisors, why are you saying inflation is low when we go to the grocery store and see how expensive a pot roast is? My father said, that's just anecdotal. But, with all due respect to my saintly father, he was wrong. The anecdotal put together makes it statistical. Any American who shops or buys gasoline sees that prices are up. It's extremely discouraging and it is going to take a toll. Unless all previous economic history is wrong, this enormous money that the Fed is pumping into the economy will result in an inflationary blow up at some point.
Neil Weinberg: People remember dog licenses. They don't remember that PCs are cheaper. They don't remember that houses are cheaper. If you look at the overall numbers, we're only up about 3 percent from last year. That's not inflation. In the future with all this liquidity it's going to be a problem. Probably the bubble is in the treasury market right now.
STOCKS FOR YOUR GOLDEN YEARS
Charles Payne: Veolia (VE)
Ben Stein: SPDR S&P 500 (SPY)
Neil Weinberg: Vanguard High Dividend Yeild Index Fund (VHDYX)